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The Tactile/Coloristic Symphonics of Yuta Strega

Tremolo, Paintings, 39 x 39
Although she received her early art education at the College of Fine arts in Frankfurt, Germany, Yuta Strega lives in France and works in a studio that, in the poetic description of one writer “opens onto a long downward sloping garden where vegetal shapes and colors mingle, then stretches into an infinite rolling landscape.” And as bucolic as that setting sounds, Strega’s oils on linen exemplify all of the urbane sophistication that one associates with the School of Paris at its best.
    The canvas that hints most directly at the artist’s pastoral environment is also one of her most thoroughly abstract: “Home Sweet Home” is a lyrical exploration of pale yet  luminous green, yellow, and blue hues glowing amid amorphous forms that evoke a dreamy atmosphere rather than a specific sense of place, a magical mood of summer and sunlight.
    In other paintings by Strega, more intense tonal contrasts prevail, and references of the figure, architecture and objects may be discerned among the jewel like colors and strongly structured abstract forms. In these works the term “color construction” applies most aptly, given that shapes seem to result from the act of painting itself, as though the artist discovers them within areas of paint that could suggest an armature of cubism partially deconstructed by impulsive, surging tides of abstract expressionism.
   Here and there, in Strega’s ostensibly abstract compositions vestiges of the figure intrude, as seen in “A Tempo, Tempo Primo,” and “Anges Déchus.” In both paintings there is a sense of jostling crowds, and in the latter there are traces of facial features on the “fallen angels,” with vertical forms in the background suggesting urban architecture. And in another oil on linen called “A Tempo Replica” the large rectangular shape in the  mostly red area at the top of the canvas reads as a building, while the forms at the bottom could be seen as foreground figures somewhat obscured by  blurred movement, sunlight, and possibly smoke or smog.
    The total effect is of the miasma of the city rendered majestic by virtue of beautifully harmonized colors, with people melded like a bouquet of flowers by a seamless artistic vision. What could be chaotic and transitory is made immutable by a luscious painterly panache that tempts one to compare Strega to Nicholas de Staël.
    Indeed de Staël comes to mind in savoring such paintings by Strega as “Bol en Mouvement” and “Jarre d’Antibes,” where the recognizable shapes of various vessels appear as prominent elements in Strega’s otherwise abstract compositions. But the resemblance to the older artists goes even deeper, extending to the paint quality itself, which lends these paintings a tactile appeal that complements their chromatic beauty.
    In other oils on linen such as “Tremelo” and “Arpeggio,” the musical terms call attention to the lilting compositional rhythms and subtleties of color that seem to function like melodies woven through the movements of a symphony. Here, recognizable forms of figures are less obvious, except perhaps for the faint faces emerging from the shimmering veils of color in “Arpeggio,” like ghosts serenely transported by the music.
    Indeed, although the primary focus of her paintings is their abstract attributes, which are more than sufficient to hold and capture our attention, such details are bonus surprises that make the paintings of Yuta Strega all the more pleasurable.
––Byron Coleman

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